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Microsoft has never released Publisher for Mac but here we’ve looked at the best alternatives to MS Publisher on macOS for all levels.

MS Publisher is different from Microsoft Word because it focuses more on creative Desktop Publishing (DTP) than word processing software.

The publishing apps featured here are suitable for creating a wide range of publications both in print and online including newsletters, brochures, booklets, magazines, newspapers, leaflets, eBooks, flyers, banners, invitations and more.

We’ve used a lot of desktop publishing software on Mac and we found by far the best alternative to Microsoft Publisher on a Mac is Adobe InDesign for incredibly professional results.

However, we’ve also taken a look at other equivalents to Publisher for Mac to suit all abilities and budgets which also work on macOS Big Sur and Catalina.

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Here then are the best alternatives to Microsoft Publisher for Mac of 2020 in order of ranking.

1. InDesign (60% Off – Best Overall)

Adobe InDesign is easily the best alternative to Microsoft Publisher on Mac for truly professional results and is the best desktop publishing software for Mac by some distance.

Especially if you’re entitled to an educational discount, Adobe InDesign is an amazing deal right now as Adobe is currently offering 60% off the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite for students and teachers.

InDesign is used professionally for everything from creating stationary, flyers, annual reports, calendars and posters to professional magazines, online interactive digital publications and e-books.

If you want to publish a book on your Mac, InDesign is definitely the best book publishing software for Mac and it’s as simple as clicking File > New > Book to instantly switch to a range of professional looking book publishing templates.

best publisher for mac alternative - indesign mac

InDesign has become far more accessible to the average user too with an easier to use layout that’s closer to the Microsoft Office style ribbon interface and toolbox.

Adobe has simplified InDesign a lot to appeal to a wider market and there are also plenty of easy to follow InDesign video tutorials to help you get to grips with the software.

You can import high quality vector graphics from other Adobe apps such as Illustrator and Photoshop in a few clicks.

What allows you to get really creative with InDesign is undoubtedly Adobe Stock which integrates into all of its Creative Cloud software.

Adobe Stock is a huge repository of millions of royalty free stock images and videos including those in 4K quality.

This means you can find and import high quality professional images and multimedia for virtually any subject which saves both time and money in sourcing images for your publication.

On its own InDesign costs $20.99 per month.

However, if you’re entitled to an educational discount, Adobe InDesign is an absolute bargain right now as Adobe is currently offering 60% off the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite

This means you get all 20 Creative Cloud apps for just $19.99.

For everyone else, Creative Cloud normally costs $52.99 per month.

That’s not just InDesign you get – Creative Cloud includes 20 industry leading apps including Photoshop, Lightroom, Spark, Adobe XD, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Acrobat Pro.

So you’re basically getting 20 Adobe applications for the price of one copy of InDesign

With Acrobat Pro included in the deal, you can also digitize your paper documents or perform OCR scanning on PDFs, images, articles and other documents which you can then edit in InDesign.

You can download a free trial of InDesign to see it for yourself.

You can check our full review of Adobe InDesign for a more in-depth look.

Pricing: 60% off with Creative Cloud Educational Discount or $20.99/m

2. Swift Publisher (Best For Beginners)

Swift Publisher is an impressive, user-friendly and slick desktop publishing application for Mac that’s become increasingly popular as a great alternative to Microsoft Publisher on a Mac for beginners.

Swift Publisher is made by Belight Software who are also the team behind Live Home 3D which is one of the best home design software for Mac users.

If monthly or annual subscriptions are not for you, Swift Publisher provides an excellent value for money desktop publishing software for Mac for just $19.99.

The good thing about all Belight products like Swift Publisher is that they don’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produce professional looking results.

However, it still includes many professional features you get in expensive DTP software such as Master pages, guide lines, grid layers, tables and more.

Swift Publisher is ideal for producing booklets, bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy.

Swift Publisher has 500 professional looking templates which you can customize anyway you want and help you create layouts quickly.

swift publisher

Swift Publisher is also integrated with Apple Photos and Aperture and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF and iCloud. There are also more advanced touches like the possibility to define bleeds and configure correct DPI for print publishing.

There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started with Swift Publisher although we found you still sometimes have to Google certain functions to work out how to do them.

We noticed stability can be an occasional issue when working with lots of images but for pamphlets, flyers and straightforward publications, it works very well.

If you want an easy to use DTP app that’s similar to Publisher but without a steep learning curve or monthly subscription fees, then Swift Publisher is an excellent, value for money tool.

You can find full details on Swift Publisher pricing here.

You can read our full Swift Publisher review here.


3. Pages (Best Apple Alternative)

Pages is Apple’s excellent alternative to Microsoft Word for Mac and used to be part of Apple’s version of Microsoft Office, iWork.

Pages is now available as a free standalone app in macOS though and is capable of both word processing and desktop publishing.

If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort.

With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you can create some really professional results using Pages.

pages for mac

Pages does have its drawbacks though. Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works.

Some users are also disappointed at recent versions of Pages which they feel aren’t as good as previous versions with some features removed or not as easy to find as before.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much support for Pages or many tutorial videos either so if you get stuck, you’ll find yourself having to Google the answer although Pages is so widely used on Mac, you’ll always find the answer somewhere.

Although the latest version of Pages can’t be compared to a professional desktop publishing solution like InDesign, you can see how they compare below.

Pricing: Free


4. Lucidpress (Best Online Alternative)

Lucidpress promotes itself as a “brand templating platform” and is an easy to use online desktop publishing software.

Lucidpress is extremely user friendly and helps you to create extremely professional looking print and digital publications including magazines, newsletters, posters, flyers, reports, digital magazines and more.

There’s nothing to download with Lucidpress as it’s all Cloud based and the basic version is free to use although way too limited for serious publishing work.

Lucidpress allows you to easily drag and drop elements, import text from Google Docs, add tables, buttons and insert interactive media such as YouTube videos.

It’s very easy to do common tasks like change the size of your canvas, undo edits and edit headers and footers in Lucidpress.


lucidpress on mac

One of the most striking things about Lucidpress is the huge range of professional looking templates ranging from posters and invitations to gift certificates and business cards.

Templates are optimized for high quality 300dpi printing although this is only available in the Professional Plan of Lucidpress.

The basic single user version of Lucidpress is completely free to use but is limited to 3 pages and 25MB of storage so the free version is not suitable for anyone needing to do serious desktop publishing.

To remove these limits and get other benefits such as print quality PDFs, document embedding and premium templates, Professional Plans cost $10 per month.

Pricing: Free/$10 per month


5. Scribus (Best Open Source Alternative)

There are basically no free alternatives to Publisher on a Mac that have comparable features and functionality, although Scribus is about the closest you’ll get.

Scribus is an open source desktop publishing application which doesn’t exactly have a polished interface or lots of features but is worth looking at if you’re on a strict budget.


Scribus has plenty of templates to choose from including for brochures, newsletters and posters.

The main toolbar across the top of Scribus provides all of the main functions and there is a sliderule along the margins to help you be exact with your designs and layouts.

As is typical with open source software however, you have to feel your way around Scirbus to get used to it. There is an extensive Scribus Wiki but it’s quite dry and there are no tutorial videos to follow.

Scribus isn’t updated very often as it relies on a small group of volunteers to keep it running so don’t expect anything in the way of new features or support if things go wrong.

Note that you also need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work.

If you want a free DTP software though, and have time study the manual, Scribus is a basic yet free alternative to MS Publisher for Mac users.

Pricing: Free

Publisher For Mac Alternatives Comparison Table

 Adobe InDesignSwift PublisherPagesLucidpressScribus
(60% Educational Discount Available)
Export (PDF/JPG)
Collaborate Online
Import Images
Monthly Subscription
Works on iPad
Cloud Storage
Drag & Drop

Free Trial

Free Trial

Free Download

Free Account

Free Trial

Can You Open Publisher Files On a Mac?

There are no apps that can open the MS Publisher .PUB format on a Mac but there are ways of opening Publisher files on Mac by converting them to another format which you can open in the programs featured here.

But we don’t recommend it because as you’ll see in this roundup, there are some much better, slicker and more powerful Publisher replacements for Mac users.

Can You Run MS Publisher On a Mac?

It is possible to run MS Publisher on Mac by installing Windows on your Mac using a virtual environment like Parallels.

You can find out exactly how to install Microsoft Publisher on a Mac here although it’s not like having the real thing and we strongly recommend using one of the alternatives featured here.

Why Is There No Microsoft Publisher For Mac?

Microsoft doesn’t always release all Windows products on Mac. There are several other major Microsoft applications apart from MS Publisher such as Visio, Project and Access that aren’t available on macOS.

The Mac user market is obviously a lot smaller than on PC and Microsoft doesn’t see it as financially viable to put the development, support and resources into making a desktop macOS compatible version of Publisher.

Note that Microsoft Publisher is not included in Office 365 for Mac users. For Windows users however, MS Publisher is included in Office 365 including Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 University.

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74 Responses

  1. MacHow2

    Scribus certainly DOES support export as PDF. I do it all the time. You also have an option to export to an image format if you really want to do that.


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